Stolen Course

By: Aly Martinez

For Mandy



It’s been way too long since we lost you. I still remember the smile on your face when you walked away from me that last time. I have no idea what we were talking about, but I can almost still hear your laugh. I miss it.





“She isn’t weighted down here on earth the way I am. She’s soaring, I’m sure. Manda never knew how to do anything else.”





“IT’S NOT fucking them!” I punch the dashboard and scream at my partner, Brett, as he weaves through traffic.

Just moments ago, we received a page that will destroy one of us forever. It said a bunch of words, but the only four I can remember are “one fatality, one injury.” I reject the very possibility that this has anything to do with my Manda, but the vise currently holding my heart still twists even tighter. I drop my head to my hands as I wage war with reality. If that message is accurate, I have a fifty-fifty chance that my life is over. Done. Finished. I’ll never survive losing Manda. Never.

It can’t be her. We haven’t even gotten married yet. We are supposed to get married and have a life together. We have a plan. A knife lands hard in my stomach as I try to reason my way out of this mess. It can’t be her. Manda is strong and healthy. No accident in the world could steal her from me. Yeah, she’s tough. She’s got to be the one who’s injured. Something simple, maybe a broken arm. We can fix that. I just need her to be alive—anything else, we can deal with together.

The car barely slows before I’m out and sprinting toward the twisted metal on the side of the highway. Every hope I have of this being a big misunderstanding vanishes into the night when I recognize Sarah’s car. Reality slices me open, but the promise of only an injury keeps my legs moving forward.

“Detective Jones!” I hear shouted, but I continue to run. I slow only when I get to a group of officers.

“Where is she?” I demand, but deep down, I’m terrified to hear the answer.

“Caleb, take a second and catch your breath.”

“Where the fuck is she!” My eyes scan the faces lining the road, desperately searching for Manda’s fiery red hair and green eyes.

But instead, they land on a white sheet covering what I know is a body. My heart begins to race as I once again try to fight all rational thinking that tells me that it’s her.

“That’s not her,” I say, desperately trying to catch my breath, but the panic that has lodged itself in my system prevents it. “Oh God, someone please tell me that’s not her.” Tears well in my eyes as I glance up to see my good friends, Stephens and Perez, step up beside me. From the look on Stephens’s face, I know I don’t want to hear whatever he has to say.

“She didn’t make it, Jones.” With one sentence, the little breath I have left is stolen. My legs buckle, forcing me helplessly to my knees.

“No.” I refuse to accept that my Manda no longer exists.

The earth starts to tremble as my world begins to crumble around me. It only takes a minute to realize that my body is violently shaking as the physical pain of reality courses through my veins. This is not happening.

“That’s not her,” I begin to repeat.

She can’t be gone. My eyes never leave the body that used to house my soul mate. This isn’t real, and any minute I’m going to wake from this horrible nightmare. I’ll roll over in bed and pull Manda hard against my chest. I close my eyes, willing myself to wake up, but it never comes.

I rise to my feet and take a step towards her. “Manda!” I yell. I need to see her. To touch her. It’s fucking cold tonight and she’s just lying there under a sheet. Oh, fuck. That’s not her.

Perez grabs my arm, effectively halting me. “Don’t do this to yourself. You don’t need to see her like that.”

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